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Louisville Zoo snow leopard tests positive for virus that causes COVID-19

Officials believe NeeCee acquired the infection from an asymptomatic staff member.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A snow leopard at the Louisville Zoo has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, a virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.

The zoo announced NeeCee, a five-year-old female snow leopard, tested positive. Officials are also waiting for confirmatory results of two other snow leopards, Kimti and Meru.

Officials said the three began showing minor respiratory symptoms within the last two weeks. They believe NeeCee acquired the infection from an asymptomatic staff member.

"Fortunately, based on clinical cases in large cats at other zoos in the country to this point, SARS-CoV-2 infection does not appear to be life-threatening," said Dr. Zoli Gyimesi, senior staff veterinarian.

The risk of the virus spreading to humans is considerably low, the zoo said.

NeeCee's positive test is the first confirmed case of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a snow leopard. The zoo said there has been one confirmed case of the infection in a domestic cat in Kentucky per USDA data.

Four tigers and three lions tested positive at a zoo in New York earlier this year. Three additional tigers tested positive at a Tennessee zoo. All animals are recovered.

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